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The One Actor Who's Played Both Batman And Superman

When it comes to roles of a lifetime, Batman and Superman would probably be at the top of a lot of actor's lists, these days. The characters aren't just two of the biggest and most popular entities in comic book history, but all of pop culture as a whole. They can be seen on pajamas and lunchboxes, making cameos in movies and TV shows, getting referenced repeatedly on iconic programs like "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons." At the end of the day, it's hard to find two characters in the world of entertainment that have made an impact the way Batman and Superman have. And when it comes to appearing on the big screen, there's only been one person in Hollywood who has actually gotten the privilege of playing both.

Over the years, at least six different actors have played Gotham's Caped Crusader. More than seven have portrayed the Last Son of Krypton. When it comes to thinking up who might have donned both capes and cowl, we must remember that this includes all movie and TV appearances, just so long as the person wore the costume or played a person who did. The man we are about to discuss has appeared several times as DC's Dark Knight, but he has only been in a movie as the Man of Steel once. But it wasn't what you may think ...

Ben Affleck played Superman in Hollywoodland, and Batman in the DCEU

As most people know, Ben Affleck has been playing DC's Batman for several years now, most recently appearing in 2021's "Zack Snyder's Justice League." But what a lot of people either aren't aware of — or forget about — is that Affleck once portrayed George Reeves, lead actor of TV's "Adventures of Superman," in the 2006 film "Hollywoodland." This involved Affleck actually donning the character's legendary costume and acting out scenes as him. That makes three different superheroes that the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" star has played over the years, with him also portraying Marvel's Matt Murdock in the 2003 film, "Daredevil." 

In "Hollywoodland," the real-life death of Reeves is at the centerpiece of a dramatic neo-noir drama also starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, and Lois Smith. A description from Focus Features reads, "The glamour of Tinseltown permanently fades for actor George Reeves, the heroic Man of Steel on TV's Adventures of Superman, as the actor dies in his Hollywood Hills home ... But it is his grieving mother, Helen Bessolo (Lois Smith), who will not let the questionable circumstances surrounding his demise go unaddressed."

It may have been a different sort of Superman role, but Affleck's performance in "Hollywoodland" was ultimately one that now sets him apart from other comic book movie stars. And according to director Allen Coulter, it actually almost didn't happen.

Affleck's Superman was nearly shut down by Warner Bros. due to rights issues

According to "Hollywoodland" director Allen Coulter, there were "a couple of things at the time that were a little frustrating" and nearly railroaded the film's Superman stuff altogether. This included Warner Bros. trying to ban the use of the character's iconic "S" symbol and also the forced changing of the movie's title and other elements to something less superhero-y. "Originally the title was Truth, Justice and the American Way, and [Warner Bros.] would not agree to that," Coulter revealed to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. "Another thing that was challenging is that [Warner Bros.] would not allow us to use the original title sequence of the Superman TV show, so we had to shoot our own version of that and reproduce it," Coulter said. "There was some issue with the Superman 'S' too, but I don't recall how we got around that." 

According to Coulter, most of his Man of Steel problems and restrictions stemmed from Warner Bros. still owning the rights to "Adventures of Superman" and also the studio releasing "Superman Returns" right around the same time as "Hollywoodland." But in the end, they were able to push through all these obstacles, Coulter said, in reference to the character's inclusion. 

He went on to praise Affleck's decision to become Batman, as well. "I would imagine Ben [chose] this because it is an opportunity to take a run at a superhero in a very different way than he did previously," Coulter told THR. "I would be very shocked it if wasn't to explore that character and his own acting abilities." Affleck is currently slated to appear in DC's upcoming "The Flash" movie that's set to be released later this year, where it is assumed — though not confirmed — that it will mark his final Batman appearance.